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Feeding America Responds to Food Shortage Amid Pandemic

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In response to the COVID-19 pandemic causing demand to rise at food banks, Feeding America, a hunger-relief and food rescue organization, has expanded its MealConnect platform and partnered with The Coca Cola Co. and Uber Eats to donate meals to those in need.

“Across the Feeding America network of 200 food banks, the majority of food banks report seeing an increase in the number of people served compared to this time last year with an average increase of almost 60%,” says Justin Block, managing director of digital platform technology for Feeding America based in Chicago, Ill. “It is estimated that approximately 4 in 10 individuals being served are new to charitable food assistance as a result of COVID-19.”

Rising demand is a result of lost wages or sudden expenses due to illness that have affected millions in the U.S. Based upon annual unemployment rising to 11.5 percent and annual poverty rising to 16.6 percent, Feeding America estimates that an additional 17 million people could be food insecure in 2020 as a result of this crisis – for a total of 54 million people, or 1 in every 6 people. This is a 46 percent increase over the 37 million people who were food insecure prior to the COVID-19 crisis (in 2018), according to Block.

“Overall, this pandemic has presented a perfect storm of increased demand, declines in donations of food, and disruptions to the charitable food assistance system’s operating model. And due to rising food insecurity rates, we don’t expect this storm to subside any time soon,” he says.

To boost food donations, Feeding America has expanded services within its MealConnect platform.

Developed in 2014 as a solution for the nation’s charitable food system, MealConnect dashboards allow donors to track donations over time to maximize tax benefits and show their impact in the community. Meanwhile, the platform allows food banks to monitor and track donations, detail when food has been rescued and delivered to a partner agency and share donation receipts with the donor.

“But once COVID-19 hit and food banks faced the triple-whammy of increased demand, decreased volunteer participation and lower food donations because of shifting consumer behavior, we challenged ourselves to stretch and expand the services of MealConnect more broadly,” says Block. “We sought input from food banks across the country, made it even easier for donors to post a donation, and modified some backend architecture that allowed the app to be available everywhere our network is – what once was opt-in is now opt-out.”

The MealConnect website is a single page application (SPA) with .NET on the backend and Angular on the frontend. All the back-end code is written in C# and the front-end is written in JavaScript. The MealConnect mobile app is supported by Ionic/Cordova, a cross-platform hybrid mobile application framework.

“We analyzed traffic patterns on mealconnect.org and reconfigured it to ease access to higher-demand areas of the website, like posting a donation. We also restructured the account creation process, so now a business can simply post a donation and wait for pickup confirmation rather than create an account and wait for approval prior to donating,” says Block. “Those same modifications occurred in the app version. Donors always had the option to take and send pictures of donations to food banks, but now it takes fewer clicks to get there.”

To further expand food donations, Feeding America joined Coca Cola and Uber Eats for a limited promotion to help provide more meals to people in need and raise awareness of the issue of hunger in communities across the country. Funds raised through this program will help to increase food bank capacity to serve those struggling with hunger.

“The Coca Cola Company and Uber Eats are steadfast supporters of Feeding America, contributing both food and funds for our nationwide network of food banks,” says Lauren Biedron, vice president of corporate partnerships at Feeding America. “Both companies provided support at the height of the pandemic and wanted to do even more to engage the public and help our neighbors in need.”

Through June 28, for every order placed via the Uber Eats app from a participating restaurant, Feeding America received a donation to provide one meal to someone in need, with the goal of providing up to 5 million meals.

“The program combined the power of three brands: The Coca-Cola Company and their critical role in the restaurant industry; Uber Eats, which has been supporting and driving demand to restaurants to continue operating through the pandemic; and Feeding America, a nationwide network of food banks that has responded to increased need for food assistance during the pandemic,” says Biedron. “We were excited that two of our partners were able to come together in such a creative way in support of our mission.”

Need to Know

Denver is Focused on Food Waste to Lower Greenhouse Gases

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In an effort to reduce greenhouse gases, the City of Denver is tackling food waste.

After sifting through garbage in landfills, the City of Denver found that 25 percent of the trash they found is recyclable and 50 percent is compostable. That’s a lot of waste.

Much of the trash found in the landfills is food waste and could be composted to reduce the disbursement of methane gas, which contributes to climate change. Although the city offers curbside compost pick up, the participation from residents is low.

Local chefs are also joining in on reducing food waste in their own kitchens through the Chefs Challenge. The Wooden Spoon, a Denver restaurant, found that 63 percent their food waste was compostable.

Reducing food waste and composting are two of the top ways to make a difference in lowering greenhouse gases.

View the original video here.

Sustainability Talks

PepsiCo’s Recycle Rally Turns 10 and Continues to Gain Momentum

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In its 2019 sustainability report, PepsiCo said it’s making progress toward its goals in several focus areas, including packaging.

By 2025, PepsiCo aims to design 100 percent of its packaging to be recyclable, compostable, or biodegradable; to increase recycled content in its plastics packaging to 25 percent; to reduce virgin plastic content by 35 percent across its beverage portfolio; and to invest to increase recycling rates in key markets.

The actions taken to achieve that last goal — investing to increase recycling rates — is being addressed through the PepsiCo Recycle Rally and similar programs.

The Recycle Rally is a free program offering funding, resources and incentives to enable and encourage more than 7,000 students from kindergarten through high school to recycle. It’s designed to energize students around recycling, help students understand the impact they’re making, and celebrate those achievements, according to PepsiCo’s website.

Tom Mooradian, senior manager of environmental sustainability for PepsiCo, oversees the Recycle Rally. He recently spoke with Waste360 about the program.

“We started it back in 2010 with the intent to inspire youth and change behavior to increase recycling nationally across the United States,” Mooradian said.

The hope is that students learn lessons about recycling and form habits that they take home and integrate into their family and future lives, he said.

Since the program launched, participating schools have recycled more than 34.5 million pounds of PET, HDPE, aluminum, fiber, glass, and other plastics and metals, diverting these materials from landfills. And participation is increasing.

“We’ve definitely had our share of lessons learned,” Mooradian said. “We’ve adapted and grown through the years, and we definitely have a great appreciation for the creativity, persistence, dedication and skill that educators exhibit every day as they teach their students about the importance of all different kinds of subjects.”

Mooradian said he enjoys working with educators to drive environmental sustainability, “particularly the idea of recycling as one of those many topics that they cover to help teach kids about what they can do in their lives to make a positive impact on the world.”

He said he’s found fulfillment building relationships with educators, hearing their feedback, and continually adapting the program. These small changes have helped the program run more seamlessly through the daily routines in schools, becoming almost turnkey for teachers or whoever is leading the program.

Mooradian said teachers can “grab some resources and share directly with their students or hand over a program to their students on the green team and say collect and tally the recyclables and be a big part of the Recycle Rally program so that folks can do work together and have fun while also learning and growing and help making a big difference.”

The program doesn’t have to be run by teachers, Mooradian said. A member of the school administration, parent teacher organization, custodial staff, or other school staff can take the leadership role.

“The only other criteria is to fill out an application and confirm that they do have a place to recycle,” he said. “We want to make sure that they have the ability to recycle at a viable recycling location, whether they drop it off themselves or they have a subscription for a hauler to pick it up every week or every few days, whatever frequency. We just want to make sure that the material is actually recycled.”

Mooradian credits the minimal criteria as one of the reasons why the program has been around for ten years. And one of the biggest incentives for schools sign up, aside from the resources, are the rewards, he said.

“Schools can accumulate reward points for each bottle or can that they recycle, and they don’t have to tally exact counts,” he said.

He said schools either weigh the containers, and that number is then converted into an estimated number of bottles and cans, or they can report the mixed-bag method, where they can report how many bags or bins full of material they collected and approximately what portion of those bags or bins had bottles and cans as opposed to other materials.

“We know single-stream recycling is most common, not just in households but in schools as well, and we don’t want to make it any more difficult for people to collect recyclables,” Mooradian said. “If they’re single-stream, we want them to continue using that method and keep it simple.”

Each tally earns one point, he said. Reward points can be redeemed for prizes such as T-shirts, lunch totes, and similar items. They can also be saved up and redeemed for recycling supplies such as bins.

“Bins are a big need at most schools,” he said. “They can start the program, maybe just in the cafeteria, then they can branch out and get bins for the classrooms or hallways or sports fields or other places as they report and earn more points. And lastly, they can redeem points for gift cards, which is very popular.”

A few years ago the program opened up its reporting portal to enable people to report other metals, other plastics, glass and paper in addition to bottles and cans, Mooradian said.

“We do not offer reward points for those materials because they aren’t as much of a direct fit with how we created this program, but we definitely see the value in encouraging the recycling of all materials consumed within a school,” he said. “We provide an impact tracker that allows schools to see the value of the total impact of all the recycling activity that they’ve had, and we provide other resources geared toward increasing collection of all those materials, not just bottles and cans. We see the need for being a full-service recycling program, not just laser focused on certain material streams.”

But the main contest that excites most of the school participants is the cash prizes awarded for the top schools in each league. In the 2019-20 school year, PepsiCo awarded more than $350,000 to schools across the country.

The top five schools in the Recycle Rally Challenge League for the 2019-2020 school year were Fort Sam Houston Elementary, Franklin Elementary, and Arnold Elementary, all of San Antonio, Texas; Pine Forest High School of Fayetteville, N.C.; and Cedar Creek Elementary of Lanoka Harbor, N.J.

The 2019-2020 school year was different than others since the year was cut short by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We had to cut the annual contest short by a month because of COVID-19,” Mooradian said. “We wrapped it up early, but it changed our focus on some of the resources we had been planning to create.”

The program has had to pivot and adapt its resources for the learning-from-home environment so that the resources are more applicable to that space. He said he sees it as an opportunity to get parents and families involved, but it looks like schools will be coming back to session in the fall in some way.

And like they’ve done many times in the last ten years, they will adapt and continue to run the Recycle Rally program for the 2020-21 school year.

“We’re proud of this program and the impact it’s been making, and we plan to continue to expand in a way that’s relevant and applicable even as the world is changing around us,” Mooradian said. “We know a lot of curve balls are going to come, but we are doing our best to prepare for them, and we think this program will continue to see a lot of growth and make an even bigger impact in the future.”

Need to Know

Creating a Waste Management and Recycling Strategy for New Businesses

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At launch, new businesses face a whole host of challenges from managing cash flow and healthcare for employees to technology. One that is underestimated is their waste management and recycling strategy.

Creating a waste management and recycling strategy can save money and increase efficiency. Businesses should consider conducting a waste audit to get a good understanding of waste management practices. The results of the audit will show how the business can reduce waste.

Additional waste management practices a business can consider include: composting, recycling, low packaging alternatives and creating a paperless environment.

Read the original story here.

Need to Know

Closed Loop Partners Launches Advanced Recycling Innovator Program As Part of its Circular Plastics Strategy

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New York, NY – Closed Loop Partners and its Center for the Circular Economy are launching the Advanced Recycling Innovator Program (ARIP) as part of a broader Advancing Circular Systems for Plastics Initiative. This program brings together nine innovative technology companies in advanced recycling, including APK AGBrightmarkCarbiosEnerkemgr3nGreenMantraJEPLANPlastic Energy, and PureCycle Technologies. Closed Loop Partners is working with these companies and a network of industry and non-profit stakeholders to further analyze the environmental and human health impacts of advanced recycling processes and identify investable opportunities along the supply chain to scale safe and circular technologies that address plastic waste.

With only 9% of the world’s plastics currently recycled and demand for plastics expected to triple by 2050, there is an urgent need to address the growing global plastics crisis. Today, the majority of plastics end up in a landfill, or worse, our oceans and the natural environment. Yet, they represent valuable materials and therefore a missed opportunity. Demand for recycled plastics is expected to grow by 5.5x in the next five years, as many of the world’s largest consumer goods companies have made public commitments to use recycled content in their products and packaging. But, supply is lagging. A diverse suite of solutions will need to be mobilized to address the plastics crisis and keep valuable materials in circulation, benefiting people, the planet and business.

Advanced plastic recycling technologies, also known as “chemical recycling”, refers to a diversity of processes and technologies that transform waste plastics into new materials. Some of these break down plastics into their original building blocks, which can then be re-incorporated into manufacturing supply chains without diminished quality. Other technologies purify the plastics to virgin quality or modify the plastic to create specialty polymers and waxes. In 2019, Closed Loop Partners released a seminal report on the current landscape of these technologies, and are now launching ARIP as part of the next phase of research and exploration of safe and circular solutions to the plastic waste crisis. The technology companies represented in ARIP utilize one of three advanced recycling processes: decomposition, conversion or purification. Through these processes, plastics that were previously considered low value and hard-to-recycle mechanically can now be transformed into valuable novel products or building blocks to make new products or packaging, including food grade recycled content. When successfully scaled, these processes can uniquely complement mechanical recycling, ensuring that there is a market for the entire spectrum of recycled plastics to get a second, third, fourth or even infinite lease on life.

To further evaluate the potential of advanced recycling technologies, Closed Loop Partners has convened a group of brands, retailers, financial institutions and investors, petrochemical industry trade associations, plastic producers, and environmental NGO experts to engage with ARIP to learn more about the environmental and human health impacts of these technologies, as well as the current policy and investment landscape. As with any emerging technologies, thorough cross-industry analysis is essential to identify safe, efficient and scalable solutions.

Advanced recycling represents just one tool in the toolbox for addressing the global plastics challenge. A multi-faceted approach to reducing plastic waste is critical, from exploring innovative alternative materials to deploying reuse business models. What’s clear is that now is the time for progress. With mounting global plastic waste and increasing demand for recycled content, there is no better moment to collaborate, test, and scale safe and circular advanced recycling technologies that can play an important role in building a waste-free future.

Media Contact: georgia@closedlooppartners.com

Need to Know

COVID-19 Affects the Quantity of Recycled Plastic

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The pandemic has significantly increased the use of plastics to limit the spread of the virus. From gloves to masks and bottles, we are all guilty of using single-use items. 

According to MarketsandMarkets, the market for plastic packaging is projected to grow by 5.5 percent in 2020. As we look to the future of plastics recycling, the demand for oil, as well as its price, have both fallen. Most plastic is made from oil and is now allowing companies to inexpensively manufacturer new plastic products. 

What does this mean for recycled plastic? Our buying habits drive the use of plastic packaging. With a little research consumers can reduce the use of plastic by making smart purchases to see if the packaging is recyclable. In addition, consumers can take extra steps at home when discarding packaging materials.

Read the original story here.

Michigan County Seeks Anchor Tenant for Sustainable Business Park

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The Kent County, Mich., Department of Public Works has issued a request for proposals seeking an anchor tenant as it continues to work toward converting part of its South Kent landfill into a sustainable business park.

The project, whose goal is to attract companies that specialize in reclaiming and converting waste material that would otherwise be dumped into the landfill, will be built on 250 acres adjacent to the waste facility in Byron Center. Kent County is in western Michigan.

“The vision of the Sustainable Business Park is to group businesses that can process waste and mutually benefit each other because of their physical closeness in the park, as well as from the processes they use to develop a feedstock or a fuel that benefits fellow tenants,” says Darwin Baas, director of the Kent County Department of Public Works, based in Grand Rapids.

The master plan for the business park was approved in 2018. The request for proposals solidifies its progress toward reclaiming or converting a significant portion of the 2.1 million cubic yards of solid waste landfilled by residents and businesses in Kent County each year.

“The Kent County Department of Public Works brought together national and local experts to create a plan for the sustainable business park to make West Michigan a leader in waste recovery,” Baas says. “The master plan is a roadmap that is helping our team move strategically forward on this new concept.”

The master plan guides work that needs to be done to develop the business park in context with the other pieces of Kent County’s plan to maintain an integrated solid waste system that moves the county closer to a material management planning process and further away from landfilling as its primary disposal outlet.

“The master plan provides a set of recommendations for how to prioritize diverting the most critical and impactful pieces of the waste flow to landfill,” Baas says.

Gershman, Brickner & Bratton (GBB) is one of the county’s advisers that served as the project team lead for a committee group of solid waste, engineering, and financing consultants. The county’s Department of Public Works also contracted directly with Byrum & Fisk Communications to advance marketing and communications for the effort, as well as local market experts Sustainable Research Group, and more recently added The Right Place to lead the economic development activity.

“The objective of the RFP is to identify innovative companies with proven track records who use technology to divert and process waste which is currently sent to landfills in West Michigan,” says Jennifer Porter, vice president of GBB, based in McLean, Va. “The desired company will have experience with mechanically sorting materials from residential, commercial, and industrial solid wastes.”

Following the mechanical separation process, the sorted plastics, metals, organic materials, and other resources will be further processed into new products and feedstocks such as engineered fuel, compost, building materials, and aggregates.

“This is not only better for the environment than landfilling, but it will also spur additional economic development activity and create more jobs,” says Porter.

Baas says the county is seeking a company that will work collaboratively with local and regional stakeholders.

“We’re looking for a company that has operating experience and skills that we consider either proven or demonstrated, based on their operational time, processing capacity and other factors at existing facilities in the U.S. or abroad,” he says. “Bottom line, our goal is to reduce waste going to landfill by 90% by 2030, so the company needs to be willing to work with Kent County to build operational capacity while at the same time being flexible as our inbound waste streams change due to national, state, or local policy, modifications in consumer behavior, and changes in the way products are manufactured.”

Questions about the request for proposals are due via email by July 22, and the proposal submission deadline is Sept. 9.

Need to Know

Study: Disposal of PFAS Waste Increases Contamination

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WASHINGTON – In a study published in the peer-reviewed journal Chemosphere, scientists at the Environmental Working Group conclude that burning, discarding and flushing waste containing the toxic fluorinated chemicals known as PFAS all contribute to environmental contamination. The three standard practices for waste management outlined in the review – landfilling, wastewater treatment and incineration – do not effectively contain or destroy PFAS.

“The three common ‘disposal’ options for getting rid of PFAS do not eliminate these contaminants but rather end up just returning either the same chemicals or their byproducts back into the environment,” says Tasha Stoiber, Ph.D., EWG senior scientist and primary author of the study. “PFAS disposal is really just another step in the contamination cycle.”

Communities with contaminated water supplies increasingly look to PFAS treatment technologies, but every technology produces PFAS-laden waste. With current disposal options, the concentrated PFAS likely returns to the environment, to require removal once more. As the need to dispose of this waste grows, handling of PFAS waste at disposal sites has received more scrutiny.

PFAS are discharged by industrial facilities, released by airports and military bases using PFAS-containing firefighting foams, and sent to landfills or flushed down drains following their use in a multitude of consumer products. Vast stores of legacy firefighting foam are being sent to incinerators that are suspected of spreading the contamination to local communities. In the absence of federal regulations, PFAS receive no special treatment during the disposal process. There is no requirement to monitor for PFAS in waste streams. Contamination moves from site to site as a result, contributing to the ever-increasing list of contaminated communities.

Mapping the full PFAS contamination cycle, including what happens after disposal, is of critical importance. PFAS are called “forever chemicals” because they never break down in the environment and could move through the cycle indefinitely. These chemicals might suppress the immune system and are associated with cancer, reproductive and developmental harms, and reduced effectiveness of vaccines, among other health problems.

“The disposal of PFAS can cause environmental pollution, which disproportionately affects people and communities near the waste disposal sites,” says Olga V. Naidenko, Ph.D., vice president for science investigations at EWG. “States, the EPA and waste management companies must take strong action to protect fence-line communities from harmful exposures to PFAS.”

The paper concludes with six measures for addressing the PFAS problem:

  • Limiting the use of PFAS to essential applications in order to reduce industrial discharges.
  • Protecting the health of fence-line communities through strong public health policies.
  • Capturing all liquid wastes from landfills and keeping them on site what leaches from the treating landfill.
  • Monitoring PFAS contamination at and near disposal sites.
  • Researching PFAS incineration to address current data gaps.
  • Researching advanced remediation technologies to generate new waste management solutions.

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The Environmental Working Group is a nonprofit, non-partisan organization that empowers people to live healthier lives in a healthier environment. Through research, advocacy and unique education tools, EWG drives consumer choice and civic action.

Need to Know

Waste Management Announces the Redemption of Special Mandatory Redemption Notes

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HOUSTON--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Waste Management, Inc. (NYSE:WM) announced today that, because its pending acquisition of Advanced Disposal Services, Inc. (NYSE: ADSW) was not completed on or prior to July 14, 2020, it will redeem the entire $3 billion aggregate outstanding principal amount of its 2.950% Senior Notes due 2024, 3.200% Senior Notes due 2026, 3.450% Senior Notes due 2029 and 4.000% Senior Notes due 2039 (collectively, the “Notes”) as required by the special mandatory redemption provisions of the Notes. The redemption date for the Notes is July 20, 2020. The redemption price for each series of the Notes will consist of the sum equal to 101% of the aggregate principal amount of such series of the Notes, plus accrued but unpaid interest on the principal amount of such series of the Notes to, but not including, the redemption date.

Notices of redemption are being sent to all currently registered holders of the Notes. For more information, holders of the Notes may call The Bank of New York Mellon Trust Company, N.A., the Trustee, at 1-800-254-2826.

This press release is not an offer to sell or a solicitation of an offer to buy any securities.

Forward Looking Statements

This press release contains forward-looking statements that involve risks and uncertainties. Factors that could cause actual results to differ materially from those expressed or implied by the forward-looking statements in this press release are discussed in our most recent Annual Report on Form 10-K and subsequent reports on Form 10-Q.

ABOUT WASTE MANAGEMENT

Waste Management, based in Houston, Texas, is the leading provider of comprehensive waste management environmental services in North America. Through its subsidiaries, Waste Management provides collection, transfer, disposal services, and recycling and resource recovery. It is also a leading developer, operator and owner of landfill gas-to-energy facilities in the United States. Waste Management’s customers include residential, commercial, industrial, and municipal customers throughout North America. To learn more information about Waste Management, visit www.wm.com.

Contacts

Waste Management
Web site 

www.wm.com

Analysts 
Ed Egl 
713.265.1656 
eegl@wm.com

Media 
Andy Izquierdo 
832.710.5287 
aizquierdo@wm.com